On May 7th the long awaited and twice delayed menu labeling for restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, convenience stores, and movie theaters with 20 or more locations, will be required to post calories on menu items and provide a full nutrition list upon request. In November of 2017, the FDA released a supplemental Draft Guidance for Industry document that addresses questions and concerns.

Here are some key changes outlined in the draft guidance to be aware of:

  • Marketing materials are no longer considered a menu. If the intention of the piece is “to entice” then it is a marketing piece. If the main goal is to order from it then it is considered a “primary writing”.
  • Compliance and enforcement! In the first year the FDA will be educating brands that are not in compliance. If a brand is putting forth a good faith effort they will be flexible in penalties.
  • Multiple suppliers for the same ingredients…no problem. The guidance now makes it an option that if a brand has more than 1 supplier of an ingredient they can take the average of the counts and only supply one set of counts on that item. This would eliminate the need for different item nutrition counts based on supplier.
  • Daily or Chef’s features will not require nutrition as long as it is on the menu less than 60 days in a calendar year.

So ready or not it appears the FDA menu labeling will go into effect this May. Menu labeling compliance is no small or easy task but with the new guidance it appears as though the FDA will be flexible and give brands the time they need to make adjustments.